Axios Twin Cities

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Hello! It's Wednesday.

  • We hate to be negative but this weather stinks. Rain, storms and a high of 48 in the NWS forecast. The rain could turn to snow overnight.

๐Ÿ€ Situational awareness: Shoes off at Target Center! The Timberwolves are going to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 after their 109-104 come-from-behind win over the L.A. Clippers last night.

  • They'll play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

Today's newsletter is 916 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Minneapolis park vendors rebound

Data: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Business for food vendors in Minneapolis parks rebounded last year after a major pandemic-driven drop in 2020.

Why it matters: Park restaurant season is quickly approaching. The most popular, Sea Salt Eatery, is planning an April 22 opening.

Driving the news: Axios obtained annual revenue numbers for the park food vendors from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.

  • Sea Salt reported $3.4 million in sales at its Minnehaha Falls restaurant, almost the same as 2019.
  • Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet reported $1.4 million in sales, which beat its pre-pandemic summer of 2019 by 10%.

Meanwhile, Owamni had a massive debut at the new Water Works park next to St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis.

  • The Indigenous food restaurant didn't open until July and only served dinner five nights a week. It still posted $1.7 million in revenue.

Yes, but: Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis had another down year, with $483,000 in sales โ€” which was 37% less than it did in 2019.

  • Sandcastle limited the days it offered its full menu last summer. It also closed Sept. 6, a month ahead of Bread & Pickle and Sea Salt.
  • Its contract with the Park Board ends in February. A spokesperson for the Park Board said officials will issue a request for proposals later this year for the building on the northwest side of the lake.

Of note: Sandcastle owners could not be reached for comment.

2. St. Paul school district to drop mask mandate

Illustration of a mask with a red x being drawn over it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Masks will be optional for St. Paul Public Schools students starting next week.

Driving the news: The city's school board voted 6-1 yesterday to drop the districtwide mask mandate as long as case levels remain low, the Pioneer Press reports.

  • The change takes effect Monday.

The big picture: More than 95% of K-12 school districts tracked by Burbio nationwide are no longer requiring masks.

Flashback: Just last month, the school board voted 3-2 to continue the mandate. Two members were absent at the time.

Of note: A mask mandate remains in effect for Minneapolis Public Schools.

  • When asked for an update on the district's policy, an MPS spokesperson told Axios that leaders continue to meet with an "external COVID-19 Regional Support Team to create and implement a transition plan in our school district."

3. Stats du jour: Big inflation, big wage growth

Illustration of a hot air balloon with Benjamin Franklin on it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Inflation in the Twin Cities shot up 8.2% over the past 12 months, close to the national increase of 8.5%.

Driving local inflation: Gas for vehicles (up 42% year-over-year), gas for homes (42%) and used cars (33%), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Food prices were up 7.9% and housing prices were up 7.2%.

Yes, but: Wages also increased 8.8% locally, outpacing inflation in March.

4. The Spoon: Wealth vs. wealth on Lake Minnetonka

Illustration of a spoon and cherry, both with arms and legs, walking.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿ’ฐ DFL Gov. Tim Walz has raised about $1 million for his re-election bid since the start of 2022, Axios has learned, ending the quarter with $4.1 million in his campaign account.

  • Quarterly reports for statewide candidates are due Thursday.

๐Ÿ  A brand new $18 million mansion on Lake Minnetonka won't have to be demolished โ€”ย at least not yet โ€”ย though a lawsuit by former Vikings player Chad Greenway says the owner violated environmental rules and city ordinances. (Star Tribune)

๐Ÿ“บ KSTP anchor/reporter Jessica Miles is leaving the station. (Star Tribune)

๐Ÿ”’ Downtown St. Paul's Freedom House homeless shelter is closing, and it's "not by choice," according to a leader of its nonprofit. (Pioneer Press)

โš–๏ธ Two men who bombed a Bloomington mosque in 2017 received sentences far below the mandatory minimum in exchange for their cooperation in helping convict the mastermind of the attack. (Axios Twin Cities)

๐Ÿ‘ต Duos, a Minneapolis-based senior care startup, landed $15 million in Series A funding, Axios Pro's Sarah Pringle scoops.

  • Sign up for a 14-day trial to get more exclusive health tech news via Axios Pro.

5. Caribou closes in downtown St. Paul

 caribou coffee
Goodbye, Caribou. Photo: Torey Van Oot/Axios

Caribou is permanently closing its skyway-level coffee shop in downtown St. Paul's Alliance Bank Center, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The closure of the Caribou, which filled a prominent storefront right outside the building's food court, isn't a great sign for downtown's rebound as more workers return to the office.

  • A number of other skyway food vendors, including Mekong Express and Peachy Cup, remained closed this week.

Flashback: Caribou isn't the first coffee chain to scale back its downtown presence during the pandemic. The Dunn Bros. on Wabasha Street closed back in August of 2020.

Of note: A Caribou spokesperson said the chain's two other downtown St. Paul spots โ€” at 401 Robert St. N and 444 Cedar St. โ€” will remain open.

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6. On this day: Harold Stassen was born

Harold Stassen opens his campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the 1948 presidential election. Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Former Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen was born on this day 115 years ago.

Interesting tidbits about Stassen, per the Minnesota Historical Society:

  • This man wasted no time growing up. He graduated from Humboldt High at age 14. At 23, he was elected Dakota County attorney. And he remains the youngest governor in Minnesota history, winning in 1938 at 31.
  • He resigned during his third term as governor to fight in World War II.
  • Stassen was a strong contender for the GOP nomination for president in 1948, but lost to Thomas Dewey at the Republican National Convention.
  • He ran for president again in 1952, then threw his support behind Dwight Eisenhower, later serving in Ike's administration.

Relevant now: Stassen was a liberal Republican and advocated in the 1960s for a universal basic income of $115 a month for mothers with two or more kids under the age of 16.

  • The city of St. Paul, where Stassen went to school, is now preparing to roll out a second phase of a guaranteed basic income pilot program.

Editor's note: The 1 big thing has been corrected to reflect that Owamni is an Indigenous food restaurant, not ingenuous.

Our picks:

โœ‚๏ธ Torey recently watched "The Outfit," which she highly recommends.

๐Ÿง  Audrey finished "Severance." Now that every episode is out, she can say itโ€™s the best show she's seen in years.

๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿผ Nick will be off on parental leave for the next three weeks, doing solo dad duties with his 3-month-old daughter. Wish him luck!